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Court makes prez choice clear

Seven years under Bush have “radicalized” me to the point that most readers might not know that I’m a recovering Republican who only became a registered Democrat right before the 2000 election. The other night I was having a beer with a fellow blogger who is of a similarly fiscal conservative, social liberal mindset. My friend was unsure as to which side of her would outweigh the other when she steps into the voting booth in November.

Personally, I will have no such doubts, and the reason why can be summed up by two words: Habeas Corpus.

The principle that a government shouldn’t be allowed to hold individuals without charge was so fundamental to the beliefs of our Founding Fathers that they enshrined in Article 1 section 9 of the Constitution: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it”. After seeing witnessing the caprices of kings, the Founders of this nation knew how important it was to have strong protections for the individual against arbitrary detention by the state. And it’s not like the Framers were a stranger to war and public terror. They’d only just fought a war themselves.

In Brown vs. Vasquez (1969) the U.S. Supreme Court described the writ of habeas corpus as “the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.”

Yet, when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to reaffirm our nation’s commitment to the principle of habeas corpus even in difficult times, in the landmark decision Boumediene v. Bush, Senator John McCain wasn’t happy. In fact, he called it: “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country”.

And that is why I’m telling people like my friend who are of the fiscal conservative, social liberal bent that they should not vote for McCain; that in this election it is absolutely critical for the future of this nation that they vote with their social and moral conscience rather than their wallets - although seeing what eight years under Bush has done to the economy, they can rest assured that voting for Obama would be better for their wallets, too. Contrary to popular belief, Democrats are much better for the stock market than Republicans. Slate.com ran the numbers and found that since 1900, Democratic presidents have produced a 12.3 % annual return on the S&P 500, vs. an 8% return for GOP leaders.

But back to why this election is so critical and why Boumediene v. Bush is such a great reminder of it. The court split 5-4 along ideological lines, with the Bush appointees Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts siding with arch conservative Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in the dissent.
Justice Stevens is currently 88 years old. John McCain has said that he plans to appoint more “strict constructionists” like Roberts and Alito. As Bill Moyers said, “Democracy in America is a series of narrow escapes.” Such closely divided court on a core issue of our national values shows that we have once again had a narrow escape.

McCain, once a POW himself, seems perfectly content to hold others indefinitely without charge, because they are “bad people.”But as Justice Kennedy wrote in his opinion, “Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers…The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled.”


( 4 comments — Add your 2 cents )
Jun. 25th, 2008 12:17 pm (UTC)
I hereby declare my intentions to THE WORLD!!!
Or the subsegment of THE WORLD that is intelligent enough to hit this site.

I am not trying to go all Carly Simon/"I bet you think this post is about me" kind of thing, but I do remember being a few beers into a political conversation and talking about how I might conceivably vote for McCain.

I declared it in an email, and now I pledge to you all: I am throwing my support to Obama. He has my vote!!! I hope my public schoolteacher, lifelong Democrat mother-in-law reads this, she will weep with relief at the prospect of my political salvation.
Jun. 25th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC)
Re: I hereby declare my intentions to THE WORLD!!!
OMG! I'm all verklempt! I feel like "it ain't all been in vain for nothin'".

The hatemail, having to unlist my phone number, all of it...this makes up for it all :-)

Edited at 2008-06-25 12:37 pm (UTC)
Jun. 25th, 2008 12:54 pm (UTC)
Arbitrary? Being captured on a battle field is arbitrary? Would you feel better if we took no one alive?

"unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it" Was 9-11 not an invasion in your book?

Maybe you should go back and research the stock market returns when their is an obstructionist democrat congress.

Poor thing. You mean well...
Jul. 4th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
Perhaps John McCain, by virtue of his experience in North Vietnam, realizes the difference between POWs and unlawful enemy combatants. Bestowing habeus corpus rights upon the latter makes the Geneva conventions irrelevant, which will tend to increase the frequency of war crimes.
( 4 comments — Add your 2 cents )